238 – Doctor Who – Heaven Sent & Hell Bent

What’s 4.5 billion years between friends?  Nothing right?  I’m sure the Doctor and Rassilon will be BFFs, right?

Ben and Eugene discuss the Series 9 final two-parts, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent.

Damn, this was a long episode…

7 thoughts on “238 – Doctor Who – Heaven Sent & Hell Bent”

  1. Since it’s going to take me several days to listen to this (is this a record length?) I’m going to forget the things I want to comment on, so I’m going to have to set some of them down as I go…

    Starting with: a note on reset rooms – I want to come back to that.

    On the President’s daughter – interesting that you thought either Susan is President’s daughter or the Doctor’s granddaughter. I think she is the Doctor’s granddaughter, but I don’t see why she couldn’t also be the President’s daughter, if the Doctor were the President’s father…? (Or the President’s husband’s father.)

    Remembering the 4.5 billion years – I don’t actually think it matters much whether he does or doesn’t remember. I agree he doesn’t remember at first, he realises – deduces, intellectually, what happened; and maybe he does remember in some sense (he’s a telepath, inside a matrixy kind of construct). The experience in and of itself is enough to change him, the torture and the confessions, over however long (and 4.5bn years total speaks to an extraordinary tenacity and resolve).

    1. It might have been a record length – at least a record length without getting split into a two-parter.

      I feel that, given the setup of the episode, there is no logically consistent way for the Doctor to remember all 4.5 billion years; however, this is genuinely an episode that requires a minimum of two viewings.

      On first view, it’s quite clear that the Doctor is part of an almost endless time loop, starting with his materialization and ending with his burning his own body to create his own new materialization.

      There are lines of dialog that happen just after he discovered the wall of unobtanium, that just make it sound like the Doctor has hit rock bottom, but on second viewing, when you know what’s coming, and you know he’s been in there thousands of years already, some of his lines of dialog take on a new meaning, starting with a line something like “and at that exact moment, that’s when I remember – every time!” It makes no sense, but perhaps its somehow tied to the wall that doesn’t reset, either?

      After the episode aired, the BBC have released the scripts to Heaven Sent and Hell Bent. Reading through the script, it’s more obvious that this is part of the torture of the Doctor. He is nearly crushed by the sudden memory of the past iterations… and each time Clara tells him to get off his arse and win.

      Grab the scripts and look through scenes 70-75 (IIRC)

      I was less certain when recording the podcast, but after another rewatch and reading the scripts, I’m certain that’s the writers written intention.

      I also agree that Susan really seems to be the Doctor’s granddaughter – good point, no reason the Doctor’s child couldn’t have been the Lord High President.

      1. It might have been a record length

        I’ve just reached the second dispute over the does he remember the 4.5bn years (I guess without these, it would have been a standard length episode?)

        there is no logically consistent way for the Doctor to remember all 4.5 billion years

        My main point is: I don’t think it matters whether he does or not.

        (But I’m not sure why there couldn’t be a logically consistent way… didn’t an insightful person observe “the matrix doesn’t even conform to the fictional physical rules of the Doctor Who universe”…?)

  2. A couple more observations from my continued listening:

    On “how good is the Mire technology” because Ashildr outlasts the sisterhood, etc. etc. The Mire have Mire technology, where are they? She seems to have outlast them…

    On “drop your weapon”. Yes, I totally got the spoon joke. Haven’t we had another spoon reference since RoS, too?

  3. Ok, Finished up.

    I too have a big problem with the Doctor shooting the general. I’d have a problem with the Doctor shooting anyone even to wound them, other than in self defence. But after all the whining he did back in The End of Time about how much regeneration hurt, it’s inexcusable to wilfully do this to someone else. He’s not called out for it, either. If, say, the Master had witnessed it with approval, we’d know the Doctor had been pushed beyond his moral boundaries by his loss and his ordeal. But there’s no commentary within the episode about how our hero violently inflicting pain might not be commendable.

    The unnecessary regeneration also annoys me, but I didn’t make any assumptions about any agenda behind this. The one in Utopia annoyed me even more, but I didn’t ascribe that to RTD’s desire to prove Time Lords could regenerate from blue to a particular shade of brown eyes – I don’t see why this is any different unless we are predisposed to think there’s some rule that while regeneration can change height, voice, hair style, mannerisms and personality, skin colour can only vary within defined parameters…

    1. Obviously, you can ascribe agenda to a writer’s creative work, otherwise the whole education system’s fascination with English Literature comes crashing down in an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of way…

      In theatre, movies and television, we do have factors beyond just the author’s intention, though, because the whole process is a collaborative creative endeavor. So, let’s draw a line…

      The script says the General regenerates into a woman. The script does not say the General regenerates into a black woman.

      We can put intent on the author concerning the gender change, we cannot squarely put the author’s intent on the change in skin color.

      What we can also do is draw from Moffat’s own words, both in script on off, and we know that, whenever there’s a controversy About Doctor Who mythos, Moffat likes to poke the hornets nest by putting his stamp on it.

      “Oh, the Doctor doesn’t do romance, jealousy, etc?” Let’s prove ’em wrong… And he’s done that and said that, in so many words.

      So, he puts in a pointless regeneration, which has lots of implications on the character of the Doctor, but those are entirely ignored in the context of the story. so I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say the scene is there as a Moffat aside to the audience rather than an integral part of the story.

      1. Well, I wasn’t saying Moffat/RTD didn’t have specific intentions about the characteristics of the new regenerations. There’s dialogue in Hell Bent relating to the fact she’s a woman (not that she’s a younger woman, as in the stage direction – but in Utopia, there’s dialogue about being a younger man.) That doesn’t on its own reveal any underlying agenda, though.

        And yes, you can speculate about author’s motivation, and discuss it – and disagree! If Moffat or RTD had specified skin colour in either of these regenerations, we’d still be speculating about why. It gets more interesting – we can wonder about conscious vs subconscious reasons for this (hypothetical) choice.

        My reaction, though, was that if Moffat was trying to say something new here about regeneration and skin colour or even gender, he didn’t get it across to me. At least at the time of viewing, I didn’t see any significance in it.

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